One of the joys of living in spiritual community is seeing souls blossoming into understanding life’s true purpose – epiphanies along the way to self-realization. Parents and school teachers especially must see many such awakenings in the young ones they care for and guide moments of profoundly spiritual awareness shining through what Master, speaking of his own birth family, happily described as the “revolving tumult” of eight children growing up together.

As devotees, we recognize such moments as the soul’s reconnection to its real nature as born of Spirit. Born of Spirit and then, in the beautiful allegory from Swamiji’s Festival of Light, flying like a fledgling bird out into the world, charged with this parting parental guidance: “Gain strength and wisdom, and what you acquire, share with others, even as we have shared with you.” On one (all too rare) occasion in my own teenage years I thanked my father for his years of kindness and support. His response springs into my mind whenever I hear the Festival: “Son, when you are grown, you will help others as your mother and I have helped you.”

Here then is the soul’s first lesson in its journey out from and, finally, back to Spirit:

Thus, Lord, we left you countless eons ago.

Ours was a holy mission. You charged us to learn great lessons from life:

to be fruitful in the gifts You had given us; to expand and multiply them.

– Festival of Light, Swami Kriyananda

Each one of us, as soul born of Spirit, has been charged with a mission, to expand what God has given, to complete the circle by sharing His gift with others, ultimately, to return everything to its source in Him. Here is the spirit of tithing, perhaps nowhere so inspiring as in the dawning divine memory of a child.

Some months back a family moved into an apartment in Ananda Village their first stable home to themselves in a tumultuous lifethey had been forced to uproot as often as six times a year, to start over from scratch again and again, and often in difficult and dangerous living situations. For a child especially the emotional toll was great – newfound friends left behind, treasured books and toys also.

Then came the move into the Ananda apartment. From the larger community came an outpouring of support and affection – and a steady stream of what was needed to make a house a home. The help that came was not unusual within the community it was simply an expression of the spirit flowing through Ananda.

The mother, who for years had watched for a way to help her daughter’s energy turn away from herself and toward doing for others, now saw her prayers answered. In the midst of such a steady flow of kindness and giving, she saw her little one transformed. “Mom,” she cried, “wasn’t it nice of those men to help us!…We should do something for them…Mom, let’s bake them a pie let’s do it right now!”

This exchange took place only a few hours before the beginning of the Fourth of July parade at Ananda Village, an event the girls did not want to miss. Time was short, the day was very hot, baking the pie might take so long that they would be late for the parade – but, “no, we have to make the pie!”

The young baker became completely focused on her project – confident and relaxed: “We can do this!” she said, with great intensity. Waiting for the pie to bake, she drew a beautiful “Happy Sri Gyanamata’s Birthday” card, complete with illustrations and a kind message. Then into the car to race over to deliver pie and card in person to the ones singled out (neither of whom had any thought of having done anything out of the ordinary).

Before the mother started the car to go to the parade, the little girl leaned back in her seat, gave an enormous sigh, and said, with profound conviction, “giving away a pie is so much better than eating a pie!”

Now, in this family, “peach pie” is code for getting outside oneself to do something for someone else. As for me, “peach pie” reminds me to tithe, serve, meditate with the fervor, appreciation, gratitude, open-heartedness, generosity of spirit so spontaneously expressed by this young channel for Divine Mother. One of the recipients of this magical pie was so affected by the energy radiating from it that he ate his half where he stood. Looking up afterward he said, with a joyful smile, “That was the best peach pie I’ve ever had!” I thought, “Surely his joy must be a reflection of the joy God feels when we turn our hearts and hands to Him, when we give ourselves, all that we have, and all that we do in loving service to Him.”

In divine friendship,

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